iSCSI Waters Getting Warmer

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Been scared to dip so much as a toe in the iSCSI waters? If you have a well-defined application that doesn't require advanced features such as remote replication, have no fear, says David Hill, vice president of storage research at the Aberdeen Group in Boston, MA. Going forward, you'll start to see many iSCSI targets designed to provide "basic storage to do a basic job."

To wit: Adaptec's new iSA1500 storage array, a 1U rack-mounted job targeted at small and medium-sized organizations and branch offices. Equipped with four hot-swap 250GB Serial ATA drives that can be configured as either RAID 0, 1, 10 or 5, the iSA1500 features an MSRP of $10,000--or a penny per megabyte.

The iSA1500 includes some advanced features such as automated storage provisioning, dynamic volume resizing and automated initiator configuration, as well as optional mirroring and snapshots. But according to Adaptec, the target market for the unit will probably have more pedestrian needs. Adaptec predicts that the main applications for the iSA1500 will be to store remote or secondary storage as a disk-to-disk backup unit--it has been certified with Computer Associates' BrightStor backup software--and as storage for Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL servers.

It's not intended as a competitor for Fibre Channel storage, says Mark Delsman, Adaptec CTO. "We see the iSCSI and Fibre Channel markets as being separate, not in competition."

Then, there's a new iSCSI card on the market which should make it possible to make iSCSI target arrays from generic server and drive hardware. Made by iSCSI host bus adapter (HBA) manufacturer Xiran, the card is called the DPA-1400 iSCSI+, and has an MSRP of $750. It is currently sampling with several OEMs, says Mark Woithe, director of IP storage marketing.

Another iSCSI product to hit the streets is an iSCSI connectivity option to ADIC's entry-level and midrange tape libraries, the Scalar 24 and Scalar 100, respectively. iSCSI connectivity is achieved with a new controller that plugs into the rear of an existing Scalar unit, says Jeff Eckard, ADIC product manager for storage networking.

Eckerd thinks iSCSI connectivity will open the door to backup consolidation for small- and medium-sized businesses.

As it stands, most small business backups happen either over the network through a central backup server or to standalone tape drives hanging off the back of the server, he says. The first approach may put unnecessary loads on a LAN, while the second method doesn't deliver very good tape drive utilization. But with an affordable iSCSI library, Eckerd predicts that companies will perform their backups over a VLAN, or set up entirely separate networks dedicated to backup.

This was first published in February 2004

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